Professors at the University of Kansas say improvisational acting extends beyond comedy and jokes and into everyday lives.
Improvisational acting is commonly associated with the kind of hijinks you might see on a show like this one, “Who’s Line is it, Anyway.” But theatre professors at the University of Kansas say it provides much more than just laughs from Wayne Brady.
For instance, Nicole Hodges Persley, a teacher of improvisational acting at the University of Kansas, leads an improv group who do much more than work with funny props.
The group, which is made up of students, create and perform skits designed to teach employees how to deal with social issues in their work place, like racism.
Hodges Persley says adding humorous improv into the serious topics they work with helps make them more personable with their audience.
“We use comedy because it helps people relate. No one wants to be labeled as a person who engages in acts of discrimination, even if everybody does and everyone has. But i think when you add a little bit of humor to it, it kind of makes people feel, ‘Okay, someones laughing about the fact they did that, maybe I can do it now.”
Leslie Bennet, who is also a theatre professor at KU, says learning how to improvise can teach beneficial skills to those outside of comedy and theatre as well.
“One of the first rules of that kind of improv is always say yes. What a skill to have in life, you know? If you are in a situation where life always throws mega curveballs at us, to be trained in ‘yes and’ helps us to be more resilient.”
This has been Cody Kuiper, for Funny Folks.